Jim Podoley’s No. 62 is the only number retired in Central Michigan University football history.
He is the only player to be named an All-American five times and still holds two CMU records. His 51 career touchdowns is still the high-water mark, as is his 29.0 punt return average in the 1956 season.
Podoley’s 51 touchdowns broke a then 50-year-old record for most touchdowns scored by a Michigan athlete. He scored six of those 51 in his final game as a Chippewa.
His 2,775 yards and 7.9 yards per carry helped the Chippewas to a .865 winning percentage (32-4-1) in his time at CMU. He left CMU as the school’s all-time leading rusher and ranked in the top 10 on CMU’s all-time rushing yardage list until 2008.
The Mount Morris native played five years in the NFL, all with the Washington Redskins. He was drafted in the fourth round by the Pittsburgh Steelers and then immediately traded to the Redskins.
Naturally, Podoley also excelled on the track. He averaged 21.4 points per meet over four years, was named team MVP all four seasons and held five different track records at one time. He excelled in the 100-yard dash, 220-yard dash, high hurdles, low hurdles and the broad jump.
He graduated from Otisville High School and afterward spent a year and a half working for the Pontiac Motor Co. and helping his widowed mother operate their 80-acre farm. He continued to help out on the farm throughout his years at CMU. He came to CMU unheralded and practically an unknown.
Podoley was inducted into the CMU Athletic Hall of Fame in 1984. He also is a member of the Flint Sports Hall of Fame.